By on March 31, 2014

 

Mark VII

TTAC Commentator Thunderjet writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Last year I picked up a ’91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC for $800. It’s in decent shape for being a Chicago area car and having 153K on the clock. The body has no major rust issues except for the front fenders, which have rust holes due to the sunroof drains, so the car will eventually need new fenders. The under body and frame are rust free and very clean. The car sat for several years before I purchased it and over the last year I have put about $500 into the car replacing various wear/tune up items (water pump, hoses, belt, cap, rotor, plug wires, spark plugs, and the starter). The car runs well and I’ve always wanted one, being that I have been a Fox Body nut since I started driving.

I would like to keep the car as I enjoy driving it. My daily driver is a 2011 Ford Focus SE bought new. It currently has about 28K on it and I’m hoping to keep it another 10 years or more. The Mark VII needs several things to make it more presentable including a paint job and the replacement of some of the leather panels on the front seats. In addition I would like to replace some wear items on the car such as the air springs so I won’t have to worry about failure in the future. I can do the repairs as time/budget allow and probably get a pretty nice car in the end.

??????????

The issue I’m having a problem with is that I already have a fun car that I tinker with: a 1988 Ford Thunderbird LX. It’s a factory 5.0 car with Edelbrock aluminum heads, a GT40 intake, .533 lift Comp roller cam, AOD with 2800 stall converter, and a 3:73 Traction-Lok differential. It’s a fun car and it’s the first car I ever bought. It’s not going away as the improvements I’ve made to the Thunderbird in the last 12 years I’ve owned the car make it too fun to part with. Also being my first car the Thunderbird is special to me.

I’m wondering if it makes sense for me to have two project/fun cars or if it’s overkill? A little background on me: I’m in my late 20’s and I’ll be getting married later this year. My fiancé doesn’t mind cars and in fact likes them as her daily driver is a 2012 Mustang V6 in Grabber Blue. I own my own house outright and I only have two sources of debt: about $15K I’m paying off in student loans for my master’s degree and the other two years on the loan for my Focus. I bought a new car as a daily driver as the dealer offered me 0% for 60 months. Who am I to say no to free money from Ford Credit? I am saving for retirement and put 15% of my yearly salary towards that. I make in the mid to upper five figures so I’m not poor but I’m not rich. As of right now having the Mark VII is only costing me about $300 a year in insurance. Does it make sense for a late 20 something to have two fun cars or should I ditch the Mark VII and just keep the Thunderbird?

Sajeev answers:

Before I go completely bonkers over a Fox Body question, a question back: do you have adequate parking for everyone’s cars???

Thunderjet writes:

The parking situation is good with the extra fox. The Thunderbird and my fiance’s Mustang reside in the garage while the Focus sits in the driveway. I usually keep the Mark in the driveway as well but if weather is bad my parents have let me drop it off at their house. They have space in their garage they are not using.

I should also note that I purchased the AOD floor shifter from your 1988 Cougar XR-7 on foxtbirdcougarforums several years ago. I think you sold it to me for ten bucks. I still have it if I ever get the desire to remove the column shifter from my Thunderbird. And yes the graphic EQ in my Thunderbird still works. It’s wired through a JVC head unit and the factory amp.

Sajeev answers:

Since normal people won’t understand this graphic EQ hack, a photo from my Cougar to clarify:

Not only is the Fox one of the most customizable vehicles on the planet, the truly insane among us convert the Ford EQ’s wiring into RCA connections; making it work with any aftermarket stereo. And it sounds kinda great, too!

What a small world it is: you knew me back when I was a Fox UBB forum fiend!  Times change, but multiple housebound projects are doable for these reasons:

  1. Your intelligent and enviable debt-to-equity ratio.
  2. Ownership of a new vehicle as a daily driver.
  3. Enough space at your residence for cars, without pissing off your significant other.
  4. Intimate knowledge of the vehicles in question, with a great track record for success.
  5. Readily available parts and low-cost of ownership inherent in Fox Body (resto?) modification.
  6. A strong internet community to help you when needed. And a sympathetic resto-mod Cougar owning schmuck on TTAC too, if that helps.

You are one lucky duck. How do I know? This is kinda how I co-exist with my old Fords. BAM SON!

A final note: since you showed me yours, here’s mine. Getting rid of my shifter opened up room in the Cougar for a manual gearbox. Thanks for that. And best of luck with the LSC, I am jealous.

photo

I really, really want an cherry 88-89 LSC, just not with Porno Red leather. One of these Foxes is enough.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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76 Comments on “Piston Slap: You’ve Got to be All Mine…Foxy Lady!...”


  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    I say punt on this one or plan to in the next couple of years. Here’s why: that new Lincoln sounds like a five year project. You are getting married soon and if kids are in the cards in the next three years, you’re not going to have enough time to maintain your sorted out Thunderbird let alone some Mark VII beater with a bunch of rust. Inevitably, this will turn into another half completed project car buried under a plastic tarp and good intentions that haunts your driveway, garage, backyard, etc. Get out while you can.

  • avatar
    raph

    Nice T-bird, the fox based car especially in later turbo coupe trim was among my favorite fox bodies. I see LSC has the wheels on his LX.

    Sigh…. Seeing that engine compartment almost makes me wish I hadn’t sold my 91 LX hatch project car.

    Definitely a great platform to wrench on, huge aftermarket support and easy to work on with perhaps the only real pain in the arse being heater core replacement on an AC car.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    Humblebrag?

  • avatar
    mikey

    Just do the math, because your young, you can spread out your costs over ten years. As others have mentioned, wives ,kids , morgages, etc, can put a wrench into many plans. Its wise to consider all possibilities?

    If the numbers work, and you truly don’t want to part with either one. Make sure you have reliable long storage . Keep both cars.

    You can always change your mind, down the road.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I think the only thing you have to worry about with taking on a new project will be if you have the space and time. Your financial situation should be OK to have a couple extra hobby cars of relative low value around considering the low debt-load.

  • avatar
    jjklongisland

    I say sell that one on ebay and find one that some other sucker invested thousands on. There was sick black one on ebay a few weeks ago that was beautiful with everything basically redone… Lets break it down, new interior $2000, paint job $4500, motor work $1500, suspension work , $1000… Thats $9000. I am sure you can find one without body issues from a more forgiving climate that it sick for under $6k… Based on your breakdown of minuscule debt I am sure you have a few thousand of disposable income to throw down on a better one.

    • 0 avatar
      doctorv8

      My thoughts exactly!

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      I’ve thought about selling this Mark VII and finding another one. This one was an impulse buy as I found it cheap near my house. It runs well but does need cosmetic work to make it nice. I keep thinking I could get one that doesn’t need cosmetic work for around $3-$4k. Which is probably cheaper than I can fix this one for.

      The only cosmetic work the Thunderbird needed was the leather on the front seats replaced. The car was from California so they were a bit dried out. No rust and no paint or body work were needed on that car. All the money I put in it went to performance part upgrades. The Lincoln on the other hand needs some cosmetic help. That will delay modifications for several years.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    What I find funny is how posters now feel they have to include their entire financial portfolio when asking a car question thanks to the B&B family planning and retirement counselors that have to constantly weigh in.

    This guy isn’t trying to restore a Shelby Mustang while simultaneously putting 4 kids through college. He has $1200 into an old Fox body and plans to drop another couple grand into it over the next few years. I wish my hobbies were so affordable. I wish anything I had to spend money on was that affordable. Go ahead and enjoy your LSC, and keep enjoying your T-bird too, you are doing just fine. Also it sounds like you found the perfect wife for yourself too, with the same interests.

    One word of advice – classic car insurance. It is stupid cheap IF your car can qualify. Just by age you should be OK but they can be picky on what they consider “collectible”. They told me that pretty much any year Mustang qualifies, but I don’t know if that courtesy extends to T-birds (or the LSC).

    • 0 avatar

      It took a while, but I got the Cougar on classic car insurance. So it’s possible with any Fox Body.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        When you say it took a while, were you able to successfully argue the collectibility? They flat out refused me, I didn’t see any room for negotiation. But the car I was attempting to insure isn’t that old either.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah I fought with their underwriters. The Cougar is over 25 years old, it wears classic car plates, and it’s far, far rarer than any Mustang 5.0.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            That’s odd; I had no problem getting my Fury insured for barely over $150 per year. And it is not super Sort Fury either.

            Keep the LSC. I miss my 88 and wish I still had it. I also love the original Turbo Coupe birds. My buddy wanted one badly but, just starting out at the time, needed some help from Dad. No dice. Having been burned by a Granada and a Citation, his dad would only pony up for Japanese iron. Too bad.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I have extreme doubts my 1st gen FWD H or C bodies would “qualify” for classic insurance despite their age.

            Maybe a Lesabre T-type or Olds Touring Sedan? Just need to find one not in junkyard condition.

            I doubt most places would cut a box Panther or B-body a break either.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “I have extreme doubts my 1st gen FWD H or C bodies would “qualify” for classic insurance despite their age.”

            Qualifying for “classic” insurance has little to do with whether the vehicle in question has any particular value or is considered to have any status among enthusiasts. Generally, these insurance underwriters are just looking for low risk. For example, my father has a Reatta insured with the same company I insure my occasional vehicles with.

            Most policies that fall into this category simply specify that other drivers in the household have a different, regular use vehicle. There are often restrictions on annual mileage and locations the vehicle can be parked or driven. Some polices are more liberal than others.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Anyone care to drop any names of who they use so I can check it out?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I’m with Hagerty and am happy with their service. Reasonable rates, and extra perks like flatbed roadside service coast to coast.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Yea Hagerty is the one I looked at. Their website says:

            “Due to increased production numbers and decreasing falling standards, some mid-70s and 80s vehicles may not qualify for Hagerty insurance. However, if your car has the following characteristics chances are we’ll have a policy that fits your vehicle:
            •Convertible
            •2-door sports car
            •Unique body shape
            •Foreign sports car
            • Big block V8 engines”

            So I’m thinking they’d be cool with the Allante, but not the Electra or Bonneville.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I once had a Collector/Special Interest policy on a 1994 Impala through Aviva that had similar low rates and coverage as Hagerty. They’re out there, you might want to talk to some different brokers.

          • 0 avatar
            thunderjet

            I use Grundy for classic car insurance. It costs me about $180 for the whole year. The only requirements they had were that the car wasn’t a daily driver and that it’s kept in a locked garage. They will basically insure any car that’s 20+ years old and not a daily car. I’m pretty sure they would insure a H-body Le Sabre no problem as long as it wasn’t a daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      Question asker here. I included the financial info because, well, I’ve read several of these articles and found that most posters tend to yell about how someone is going to go broke fixing a car. I wanted to show that I was ok before 25 posts came up about how I was throwing my money away. Isn’t that what a project car is for? I can afford to make repairs over a period of time without putting myself in a huge financial hole.

      As far as classic car insurance I have that on the Thunderbird already. I was able to insure it as such once it reached 20 years old. Right now at 26 it is officially an “antique vehicle” in the state I live in so it also has antique plates. The Thunderbird is insured for it’s full value as well as the cost of the modifications done to the car. If something ever were to happen to the Thunderbird I would be able to recreate the car at no cost to me. As far as the Lincoln is concerned it is on regular insurance as I haven’t moved it to the collector policy as of yet.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @thunder – I know why you included it, that wasn’t a slam on you or anything. It was a slam on the B&B group you mentioned, that feels the need to give out the same advice to every single one of these articles – namely that you should never spend any more money than the bare minimum on the cheapest car you can possibly find that will meet your basic transportation needs, and you should keep that car for at least a decade if not longer. And if you are not already retired then you should ride a bicycle or take the bus until you have paid off your house and paid for all your children (current and future) to attend a private university and get a doctorate. Its frankly none of their business and you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to them.

        And yet even after reporting to us that you are in better financial health than probably 95% of the US population, the very first response you got was from the “you are going to have kids soon and then your entire life will be devoted to them forever so get rid of the fun cars now and drive something safe and practical, usually a minivan” brigade. Which is the other loud B&B contingent.

        I honestly don’t know why these people are on a car site in the first place. There should be a rule for all Piston Slap and New or Used articles than no comments about financial advice or future family planning be allowed, and no one should be allowed to recommend a minivan to anyone either.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Perspective has a lot to do with giving good advice. OP included the details, and got some decent corresponding advice. Rules? We don’t need no stinkin rules.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        I hate the ‘B&B’ comments that spend the entirety of their response telling you that you should never take out a loan on a car, and if you don’t have half a million in the bank, why are you spending anything!?!?!? as much as anything – but I am going to sound like them (at least a little.)

        You have a project car already, and the new one really doesn’t offer something you don’t have – they’re both 2-door cruisers (on top of your wife’s ‘Stang.) Figure out which one you actually want to wrench on for the next few years, and sell the other one. You are fortunate enough to have your DD situ clear, you own a house, and you have an understanding soon-to-be spouse. You should really consider turning your current financial stability into long-term financial success.

        • 0 avatar
          thunderjet

          Admittedly I have thought about investing and/or saving more than I currently do. A second project car would eat some of that money.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The reason to have two project cars is so that you have something fun to drive while you are working on the other one. As long as you can comfortably afford it, and have a place to keep them, why not?

          I’d have more than my current four vehicles (two new, two old and British = automatic project status) if I had more storage space (and time), that is my ultimate limiting factor FAR more than money. And I am trying to be smart enough NOT to build that second garage/shop. :-)

  • avatar
    fredtal

    “I’m wondering if it makes sense for me to have two project/fun cars or if it’s overkill?”

    The issue is there is no logic behind having a project/fun car. When it stops being fun then sell them and move on.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Not a big Fox fan but the coupes always worked for me. Nice collection and as others have said cheap in the grand scheme of hobbies.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I see we’ve already ventured into Ford Country. And on a Monday morning, too.

    Sigh.

    More coffee, please.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Damn, I wish I could find a Mk VII LSC for sale period…such a cool looking car, and so receptive to modifications!

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    Now subbing in for Suze Orman is Sajeev Mehta from TTAC

    Caller… I’d like to buy a new car

    Sajeev… Get a Panther, Son

    Caller.. I’m a girl and why would I want a large cat? I live in an apartment in Philadelphia

  • avatar
    Wscott97

    I say if you can afford it, then Enjoy it while you can. If you find the car under the tarp as an unfinished project, you can either sell it or wait until you future child is old enough to watch you work or help. Save that Mark VII from being a future junkyard find.

  • avatar
    bodayguy

    First of all, I love both cars and congrats on your financial stability.
    My concern is that I don’t see either of these cars being too collectible, so when the time comes and you decide to sell the Mark, you’re not getting back much of that money. And the two cars are pretty similar, so I don’t see the great joy in working on both. I’d keep the Tbird and either keep the Lincoln for minor tinkering or get rid of it and use the money pit on a truly different flavor of project (truck?).

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      Unfortunately unless one owns a rare Camaro/GM A body/Mustang/Hemi Mopar you don’t get a very good return on investment on project cars. Most old non “cool” cars aren’t worth very much. With the Thunderbird I have no issue putting money into it as I don’t plan on selling it. The Mark on the other hand is the one that would go if I had to sell a project car. That’s why I’m a bit torn on sinking a bunch of money into it.

      • 0 avatar
        bodayguy

        Well I have an 80s Grand Wagoneer and it’s doing alright on value versus what I have spent on it. I mean, yeah, I am losing money on the b*^&*, but it’s not a complete pit. I’m just saying, the Tbird sounds brilliant and I’d say spend the project money on something like a 70s Chevy truck or something 4×4 — something that gives you more options in the dream garage. Or at least that’s how my mind works! Have fun, you sound like a cool dude.

        • 0 avatar
          thunderjet

          For now the Thunderbird is doing good. I have less money in the car than it’s been appraised for. Plus if it gets totaled out it’s on collector insurance so I get enough money to replace the car and modify a new one to make it an equivalent. I hope I never have to use the policy though.

          Instead of a truck I have had thoughts of a wagon. Specifically one of the late 80′s B-body Oldsmobile wagons. I love those things for some reason.

  • avatar
    marmot

    Sajeev, I hope the graphic equalizer settings in the photo were for the picture only ( the equalizers in the catalogs were all set that way) as the sound you would hear with those settings would be awful. No bass, no treble.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    The kids thing is a good point. I’m worried that when I have kids down the road my car tinkering time will become nonexistent. The Thunderbird would be fine as it’s at that magical point where all I do is drive it and put gas in it. The car needs nothing. Even if I had kids I’d be able to take it out for a drive. The Lincoln on the other hand needs work. Work I may still be doing when kids come around. Plus children will take a decent chunk of money to raise. I’m thinking of holding on to the Lincoln till children become part of the picture?

    Also I haven’t really been spending money on the Lincoln due to the upcoming wedding. I’ve just been driving it and saving my disposable income for wedding related expenses. Call me crazy but my fiance and I are paying for the wedding in cash. I can’t justify “toy” car repairs/upgrades that would take money away from the wedding fund.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “Call me crazy but my fiance and I are paying for the wedding in cash.”

      That’s not crazy at all. It probably means that—unless you and your fiancée have stores of money somewhere—you’ll have a simple, affordable wedding. I do understand taking out even a small loan to throw a wedding, but I can’t understand why relatively middle-class people would put their financial futures in jeopardy to throw super-expensive weddings. But paying cash for it? That’s pretty cool in my book.

      • 0 avatar
        thunderjet

        We’re going with the simple wedding option. I have money on the side but I can’t touch it as it’s in retirement funds. I want to be able to retire someday and blowing money on a wedding isn’t the way to do it. We’ve saved up enough money to have a nice wedding and pay for it all in cash without hurting ourselves (ie taking money from everyday expenses and saving). It is cutting into my car fund budget but it’s worth it in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      There’s no reason to worry about not having time or money once you have children, because it’s pretty much a certainty.

      It kind of goes in phases. When they are infants, your spare time will be used to give your wife a break from childcare or to give her an opportunity to get out and run errands. As they get older, you can start taking them places, like to the park or one of those places that has inflatables. Oh, yeah, innumerable birthday parties and the occasional visit to Chuck E Cheese. After that, there’s lots of driving them to activities, and of course there’s always math homework.

      I suggest you find a hobby that inexpensive, you can do close to home in relatively short blocks of time. I’m doing running races and short distance triathlons.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        Why must it be a certainty? The second paragraph there doesn’t sound like loads of fun to me.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        My kids love going to car shows in my old cars, and going for cruises. In a few years, I’m sure they’ll love the race track too.

        The point is, you don’t have to give up your hobbies when you have a family, you can include them. Sure your mother in law will think you’re a jerk for working on a car a couple nights a week, but who cares what she thinks?

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Having kids may not be in his plans, but having project cars is more of a way of life, than a “hobby”. Flying model airplanes (into buildings) is a hobby. Yes I’m obsessed with the Fox coupes too. If I was multi millionaire, I’d have 40 to 50 Foxes hanging around in various states of disrepair/completion. Instead of 3 or 4.

        But no one would ever notice he was like his peer group and tax bracket. They own 328i’s, 5-series, Audis and live in condos. And by “own” and “live in”, I mean “lease”.

        But kids are crazy expensive hobbies. You don’t have to be a millionaire to easily spend a million per kid from diapers to college grad. But there’s no reason 2 Fox projects would clash with having kids. Or vise versa.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      At some point your kids will want to hang with Dad. If that means helping you in the garage then your project cars will have a bright future.

    • 0 avatar
      BobinPgh

      Well who says you have to have kids? You and the wife need to make a trip to Planned Parenthood about family planning. From what my sisters tell me, they are better about not having kids than the “Old Gynes” a lot of women go to, because they don’t make money off of women having kids. They tell me “old gynes” are expensive and crowded waiting rooms too.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I would go ahead and get the Mark VII into the condition you’d like it to be in (so definitely replace the rusted fenders and the other wear-items), but I’d save all the tinkering and tuning and modifying for the T-Bird.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    +A million for what I’m hoping is a reference to that weird song on Three Imaginary Boys

    Only Cure album I enjoy. Pure 80s teenage garage post punk.

  • avatar
    Panther Platform

    @Thunder – As a Ford guy who loves Lincolns and personal luxury coupes(I had a Lincoln Mark VIII) and has a 2011 Focus SE for a daily driver, I would be proud if you would consider being my son, LOL. You are a smart guy and mechanically inclined so I don’t see anything wrong with having the T-Bird and Mark VII, especially because your fiancé is supportive.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “I’m wondering if it makes sense for me to have two project/fun cars or if it’s overkill?”

    All of my cars are project cars.

    Other than my preference for GM vehicles, your life sounds almost exactly the same as mine. Keep them both.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    If the LSC sits outside quite a bit, sell it. The rust will grow, and then it will be another ’round-to-it’ lawn ornament.

    And your choice to have kids is you and your fiance’s, not political activists.

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    Keep both cars since your parking and spouse are friendly to the situation. Worse comes to worse, there will always be someone willing to buy the Lincoln for the sheer purpose of ripping out its H.O 5.0 small block.

  • avatar

    hey thunderjet, here’s a question from left field…

    is the screen name based on little electric toy cars, or something else like fighter jets or boats or whatever?

    i only ask because i collect Aurora Thunderjet slot cars, and the name jumped out at me.

    nice LSC, btw. always wanted one of them.


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